Freelance Writers: How to Say No to Clients

Very few freelance writers are rich – that is, unless they have another job or they’ve come into a mighty big inheritance. That is why many freelance writers take on too many jobs at once, hoping that they can get ahead financially. But there is a limit to how many words you can write in a day – and how many projects you can reasonably manage.
First, I would advise that you purchase a wall calendar or date book that is reserved specifically for your freelance writing jobs. Each time you are contracted by a client, write down the start date of the project and the date on which it’s due. You might also want to include the total word count, page count or breadth of the project to decide how many hours it will take to complete.

That will give you an idea of the projects you are currently working on, as well as the number of projects you could safely consider in the near future.

Now, let’s say that you’ve reached maximum capacity. You’re already working twelve-hour days, and you can’t possibly fit anything else into your schedule The first step is realizing that you’re overloaded; the second step is doing something about it.

Learning to say no to clients is a difficult process for freelance writers. You want to please your existing clients and you certainly don’t want to turn away prospective ones, but you must also avoid burn-out as effectively as possible. Taking on too many projects at once is an injustice to yourself as well as your clients. After all, they’ve paid for the best work you can provide.

How to Say No to Clients: Don’t Accept Jobs on the Phone

Many freelance writers suffer from this syndrome, which is why you should avoid taking projects over the phone. You receive a call from an important client or from someone who wants to become a client and he’s frantic to get you to work on his project immediately, without delay. Not thinking about the ten other projects you’ve got in the works, you agree to his proposal. You discuss it at length and by the time you’re off the phone, you’re wondering why in the world you agreed.

Instead, implement a twenty-four hour policy. Let clients and potential clients know that you’ll have to examine your schedule, come up with a price quote and determine an estimated completion date. You’ll get back to them in twenty-four hours with your response. This gives you the opportunity to decide whether or not you can take on another project at that time.

How to Say No to Clients: Offer Recommendations

One of the best ways you can ensure a reasonable workload is by networking with three or four other freelance writers. Keep in contact, and when you’re offered a project that you just can’t take on, refer the client to one of the other freelance writers in your group. That way, each writer is never overloaded, but you’ll get extra work when you don’t have enough on your plate.

This is a win-win situation for both writers and clients as long as you approve of the standards of the other writers. Make sure that your styles, business practices and abilities mesh so that your clients aren’t disappointed with your recommendation.

How to Say No to Clients: Start a Waiting List

Just like medical specialists and major universities, you can have your own waiting list. When you’re overbooked, let your clients know that there will be a two-week, two-month or even six-month waiting list for new projects, and give them an estimated date you can start. Faithful clients will put up with a waiting list in order to benefit from your expertise, and you’ll even gain popularity when clients here that you’re amazing enough to warrant a waiting list.

As a freelance writer, you don’t have to overwork yourself in order to make the rent. Simply begin an effective organizational program that allows you to monitor your current projects. Don’t be afraid to say no when you just can’t handle anything else.

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